Movies

That SnyderCut trailer is exactly what fans were hoping for

Zach Snyder gets his groove back

Credit: SnyderCut trailer

It’s not often that directors get a chance to fix their mistakes. Screeners and test audiences help a little in giving studios insight as to how well their movies will be received, but it is not until a movie goes out to the general audience, and Twitter reviews are tallied, that a director or studio knows if they made the right moves.

The entertainment business is particularly difficult, because unlike the rest of the business world, it does not rely upon developing products or services that help satisfy people’s needs. Entertainment is an incredibly subjective experience and can therefore be incredibly difficult to get right.

Furthermore, fans feel increasingly empowered to demand more accountability from the studios for whom they have bequeathed the responsibility of housing their favorite franchises. Sometimes they get it right — Captain America. Sometimes they get it wrong — Ghostbusters. Other times they get it right AND wrong — Star Wars sequels. And then we have the peculiar case of what has become lovingly known as the SnyderVerse.

Zach Snyder initially rode in on his white horse to help start construction on the DC comics cinematic universe. After a string of hits like Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch, the fans cheered. This guy understood comics, and if Marvel could essentially rise from the dead to wind up creating something like The Avengers, the DC universe, riding high after the success of the Dark Knight trilogy, would obviously be far superior.

Marvel, while having its fair share of box office success, is not without its fair share of criticism as well. Marvel is accused of being cookie-cutter, with every movie being essentially the same. The villains are just bizarro versions of the hero, the stories are mindless action movie tropes, they are silly characters in fanciful costumes super-imposed on a backdrop of clutter and explosions.

And whether everyone agrees with this or not, and whether this formula was working well for Marvel or not, Zach Snyder did not want to just do the same thing that Marvel was doing. There is a saying in Hollywood, that when it comes to giving the people what it is that they want, execs typically respond by saying, “Oh, we’ll give them something much better than that.”

Stan Lee, who created Marvel comics, quite famously pointed out that his goal with Marvel comics was to create an “everyman.” He didn’t like the idea of super-powered god-like beings who lived in a fictional reality. He wondered, ‘What if a kid from Queens was suddenly given super powers,’ or ‘What would it be like if an ex-con with a heart of gold was able to shrink to the size of an ant?’ He wanted his hero’s to be relatable humans set in the real world.

Zach Snyder had a similar vision. Rather than create a fantastical universe where Superman flies around and saves people out of the air like in Richard Donner’s Superman or where a caped crusader scours the nights searching out an infinite number of super villains who wander the streets like in Tim Burton’s Batman, Snyder wondered what it would be like if these fantastical DC heroes existed in the real world.

Many DC fans loved Snyder’s vision. And even if they didn’t love it, they loved the fact that DC was making a go of it. For example, the way some Superman fans thought about Man of Steel was “I didn’t love it, but I’m so glad they made a new Superman movie, I don’t want to criticize it.”

Unfortunately, at the same time as DC was figuring out their formula, Marvel was conquering the world. Comic fans were having a hard time parsing out the difference between what Marvel was trying to do and what DC was trying to do. Many fans felt confused. They couldn’t understand why DC didn’t just copy Marvel’s formula.

Of course, the simple answer is that ‘You’ve already seen that. We’re trying to give you something different.’ And thanks to Twitter and YouTube and the newly empowered (and vocal) fans those tools created, many fans were not shy about openly blasting DC’s strategy. They complained that the DC movies were too dark, too serious, too boring. Or in the case of Suicide Squad, just too stupid.

After Batman v Superman was largely scorned by critics and fans alike, and after the tragic depression which took Autumn Snyder’s life causing Zach Snyder to have to prematurely step down from the Justice League movie, DC figured they would take that as an opportunity to try to give the fans what they appeared to desire; which was a movie that was a little more lighthearted and fun.

Well, that didn’t work either. While the initial reviews of Justice League appeared to be good, they quickly devolved into animosity, hatred, and contempt. People actually complained that DC had lost sight of Zach Snyder’s vision. They accused DC of trying to be be too much like Marvel.

As it turns out, the Snyder formula HAD been working on fans. Snyder’s vision was just a little ahead of its time. For example, Man of Steel, which originally received look-warm reviews due to making Superman too human (he killed Zod, how dare they) grew a pretty large cult following. Over time, fans grew to love Man of Steel. The same thing happened with Batman v Superman. They obviously loved Wonder Woman. And based on box office numbers, they really loved Aquaman.

This idea was cemented even further upon the release of Wonder Woman ’84. The original Wonder Woman which portrayed the lead character as a warrior who helped put an end to World War 1, was followed up by a somewhat silly movie about a man who finds a stone that allows him to grant wishes. Fans of DC, who were becoming increasingly accustomed to the idea of the darker DC universe, were far from nonplussed.

Fortunately, the SnyderCut campaign miraculously worked. It took some time, but fans who ultimately decided that they actually really liked what Zach Snyder was trying to do, decided to start a campaign to allow Zach Snyder to finish his vision of Justice League. It started out as a joke. Nobody really thought that DC or Warner Bros. would actually let Zach Snyder go back and remake a movie that had already been released.

But fortunately for Zach Snyder, Warner Bros, who was deperately trying to develop new content for their streaming app, figured that this would be a great way to get people interested in HBO Max. So WB gave him an extra $20 million to finish his vision. And not only does the trailer look amazing, but Snyder has the added benefit of having witnessed the original release, so he probably has a pretty good idea of what aspects need to be changed.

And of course, the real good news for DC fans is that this means that DC is hopefully back on track. Now that the kinks have been ironed out a little, Zach Snyder will be able to continue to lay out his vision for the DCEU. And of course the ironic thing, is that now Marvel is beginning to steal a page or two from DC. With the ending of the Infinity Gauntlet saga, Marvel appears to be dispensing with the kid-friendly entertainment and is beginning to go a little more adult. The darker themes in WandaVision, for the people who have watched, prove that.

Freelance writer and professional gig-worker. I mostly write about the impact of technology on business & culture. Find me on twitter @chasebanderson.

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